Big Brother, Kay Burley and Loose Women: the most complained about TV shows of the decade


As the 2010s draw to a close, Ofcom has revealed the top 10 most complained shows of the last decade. Find out which shows have wound up or offended viewers:

The number one slot goes to Channel 5, with more than 25,000 people complaining about last year’s Celebrity Big Brother, when Roxanne Pallett alleged assault by fellow housemate Ryan Thomas. The episode accounted for around half of all broadcasting complaints in 2018, making it by far the most complained-about programme of the decade.

Behind it was an episode of Loose Women on ITV, also from last year, which drew almost 8,000 complaints about an interview with guest Kim Woodburn (pictured above).

The rest of the list is dominated by reality shows and news programmes.

1. Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5 
30th, 31st August, 1st September 2018  
Alleged assault - more than 25,000 complaints

2. Loose Women, ITV 
29th August 2018 
8,002 complaints over an incident involving an interview Kim Woodburn, which resulted in her walking off set.

3. UKIP: The First 100 days, Channel 4
16th February 2015
6,187 complaints about the portrayal of UKIP.

4. Sky News interview with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson 
27th September 2018
3,463 complaints alleging bias and defamation.

5. The X Factor, ITV
11th December 2010 
2,868 complaints about an "explicit" performance by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera.

6. Channel 4 News, Channel 4
29th March 2019
2,717 complaints about Jon Snow's comments about white people at a Brexit protest.

7. Love Island, ITV2 
1st July 2018 
2,644 viewers raised concerns about emotional distress to contestants, specifically Dani Dyer becoming distressed after a clip was shown to her of boyfriend, Jack, with his former partner.

8. The Wright Stuff, Channel 5
6th, 7th, 8th December 2011
2,358 complaints about "inappropriate" comments about the first murder in the Hebrides for 40 years.

9. Big Brother, Channel 5 
24th June 2015 - 2,024 complaints about comments made by contestants.

10. Sky News with Kay Burley, Sky News 
5th June 2015
1,838 complaints about the tone of Kay Burley interviewing Chief Executive of Merlin Entertainment, Nick Varney, in the aftermath of the Alton Towers roller coaster crash.

In response, Ofcom's Director of Content Standards, Tony Close said:
People expect particular standards from TV and radio shows. Quite rightly, they feel passionately about programmes and want to have their say. Ofcom’s job is to hear those views and protect the public from harmful and offensive content.... 
When the breach is extremely serious, we can take a channel’s licence away. In recent years, for example, Ofcom has revoked two broadcasting licences because of concerns around hate speech.

This year, Ofcom assessed almost 28,000 complaints from TV and radio audiences, and reviewed almost 7,000 hours of programmes. The regulator launched 121 investigations, and found broadcasting rules were broken in 55 cases.


2019 only
In 2019, the most complained about shows were:

1. Channel 4 News, Channel 4 
29th March 2019
2,717 complaints when presenter Jon Snow said, after a day of rallies and protests relating to Brexit, that he had “never seen so many white people in one place”. 

2. Good Morning Britain, ITV
11th September 2019
955 complaints from viewers who felt that the presenter’s comments ridiculed gender identity issues. We reminded ITV that strong views on issues such as sex or gender reassignment should be presented with care.

3. The X Factor: Celebrity Final, ITV
30th November 2019
802 viewers objected to a sexualised performance by the Pussycat Dolls. Ofcom is currently assessing these complaints.